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U.S. Supreme Court

Washington & Georgetown R. Co. v. Hickey, 166 U.S. 521 (1897)

Washington and Georgetown Railroad Company v. Hickey

No. 258

Argued March 30, 1891

Decided April 19, 1891

166 U.S. 521


A car upon a street horse railroad in Washington, arriving at a point where the street crossed a steam railroad at grade, found the gate bars lowered. A train on the steam railroad was seen to be approaching. Before it arrived at the crossing, the bars were raised. The driver of the horse car attempted to cross notwithstanding the approaching train. The gate bars were lowered again and the horse car was caught upon the track. It was filled with passengers, among whom was Mrs. H., one of the defendants in error, sitting upon an open outer seat. The frightened passengers rushed precipitately from the car. Their doing this caused Mrs. H. to be thrown from ,the car, whereby she was seriously injured. The railroad train was stopped just before reaching the horse car. The bars were again raised, and the horse car went off the railroad track uninjured. Mrs. H. and her husband sued both railroad companies to recover damages, alleging that she was pushed and shoved from her seat and thrown violently to the ground, claiming that the steam railroad company was liable by reason of the negligence of its servant in managing the gates and that the horse railroad company was liable by reason of the negligence of its driver in not waiting till the train should have passed, and demanding a recovery of thirty thousand dollars as damages. The court charged the jury that if they should find from all the evidence that the plaintiffs were entitled to recover, they might award damages within the limits claimed in the declaration. The jury returned a verdict for twelve thousand dollars. The court thought this to be excessive. With the plaintiffs' consent, it was reduced to six thousand dollars, and judgment entered for that amount.


(1) That the driver of the horse car was guilty of negligence in attempting to cross the track of the steam railroad under the circumstances.

(2) That there was evidence to warrant the jury to find that the gateman was the servant of the steam railroad company, and that that company was responsible for the results of his negligence.

(3) That as no exception was taken to the charge respecting damages, no question upon it is before the court.

(4) That whether Mrs. H. was injured by falling from the car or from being pushed from it was immaterial in view of the causes of the injury.

The case is stated in the opinion. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 166 U. S. 522

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